Physical Activity Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Executive Function Impairment in Older Women

Scott Clark, Jeanine Parisi, Julie Kuo, Michelle C. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To examine whether baseline levels of physical activity, measured by total caloric expenditure, predicted domain-specific cognitive impairments over a 9-year period. Method: Participants included 376 community-dwelling older women aged 70 to 80 years at baseline from the Women's Health and Aging Study II. Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the associations between self-reported physical activity and risk of cognitive impairments in psychomotor speed, executive function, and verbal memory. Models were adjusted for age, race, education, number of chronic illnesses, and number of depressive symptoms at baseline. Results: Greater baseline levels of caloric expenditure were associated with better executive function in the most active quintile of adults compared with the least active quintile. Caloric expenditure was not associated with improved scores for any of the other domains assessed. Discussion: The results of this study suggest that higher levels of physical activity modified risk of incident impairment in executive function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-739
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • caloric expenditure
  • cognitive impairment
  • executive function
  • memory
  • older women
  • physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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